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HMS Ajax

Leander Class Light Cruiser

with a Fairy Swordfish flying past
with a Fairy Swordfish flying past
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Built by Vickers Armstrong, Barrow. Laid Down 7 February 1933.

Launched 1 March 1934. Completed 12 April 1935.

Damaged by Admiral Graf Spee at Battle of the River Plate, December 1939. Chatham 12/39 - 7/40 for repair. Damaged 1/1/43 - New York for repair 3/43 - 10/43.

Paid off February 1948. Broken up by Cashmore, Newport, 1949.

Best known for her participation in the battle of the River Plate against the Admiral Graf Spee, during which she was hit by an 11in (280mm) shell which put her 'X' turret out of action. The full story of the battle together with photos is one of the Cruiser Actions.

Ajax served on the America and West Indies Station from completion, but formed part of the South America Division in September 1939. Operating off the River Plate, she intercepted the German merchantmen Carl Fritzen and Olinda that month, and on 5 December, with Cumberland, the steamer Ussakuma. As part of Force G she patrolled off the Falklands and the east coast of south America in the hunt for Admiral Graf Spee before participating in the Battle of the River Plate, when she was hit seven times by the German ship and badly damaged. She was under repair from December 1939 until July 1940, then joined the 7th Cruiser Squadron in the Mediterranean. On 11/12 October she engaged an Italian torpedo boat force, sinking Airone and Ariel and badly damaging the destroyer Artigliere, which was later sunk by York. Her Mediterranean career included raids into the Straits of Otranto, Malta convoys, the battle of Cape Matapan, the evacuation of Greece (when she took off the last troops on 29 April 1941) and sorties against the Axis invasion convoys to Crete. On 21 May she was attacked by Ju 87s of III St Gr2 and hit by bombs, hut was able to cover the Syria operations in June. She was transferred to Malta in November to reinforce Force K, but was withdrawn in February 1942 when that force was disbanded after the loss of Neptune. The ship was under repair and refit at Chatham between May and October 1942, consequent upon damage received in the eastern Mediterranean, then returned to join Force Q at Bone on 1 January 1943. Unfortunately she was immediately hit in a bombing raid and badly damaged again, which necessitated docking in New York Navy Yard from 4 March 1943 until October. By May 1944 she was in the eastern Mediterranean, but was recalled to Britain for Operation Overlord in June and served off Gold Beach with Force K. After yet another return to the Mediterranean she was at the landings in the south of France in August, then in the autumn operated in the Aegean and Greek waters during the reoccupation of Athens and the communist uprising, when she shelled ELAS positions. She saw little or no postwar service, and was laid up in the River Fal. She was towed away on 8 November 1949, arriving at the Newport yard of Cashmore's for breaking up on 18 November 1949.

as completed
as completed
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pre-war
pre-war
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pre-war
pre-war
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pre-war
pre-war
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pre-war
pre-war
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4inch AA gunnery training - 1936 off Malta
4inch AA gunnery training - 1936 off Malta
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prewar
prewar
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prewar
prewar
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May 1944
May 1944
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battle ensign flying, bombarding gun positions inland from Gold beach, Normandy
battle ensign flying, bombarding gun positions inland from Gold beach, Normandy
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In dazzle paint, Alexandria harbour, Kimberley in the background
In dazzle paint, Alexandria harbour, Kimberley in the background
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Ajax
Ajax
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nice pic, post war leaving Malta
nice pic, post war leaving Malta
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